If you’re reading this, it’s actually AFTER Christmas now and I am late in bringing you my twelfth Christmas pick. Oops. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. If you are still looking for gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe the gift you chose was a big fail and you need something completely different. I am here to help!
But first, a special shout out to Esther Price Candy in Dayton, Ohio. I ordered a one pound box of assorted chocolates for Andy and an eight ounce sugar free box for myself a few weeks ago to arrive in time for Christmas. Esther Price is Andy’s favorite candy and I order it for him as a special treat every year just for Christmas. Unfortunately, the box from Esther Price turned up missing at the UPS store. (Even though someone had signed for them at the store on the 19th of December, they were gone by them time Andy came to pick them up.)
I contacted Esther Price and they took very good care of me. They immediately shipped out a replacement order next day air with no charge to me! It was around 1pm on Monday the 23rd when I called about my missing package). By the next day (the 24th) at around 1pm UPS arrived with the candy. So very awesome!! Thank you for your great service, Esther Price. We got the candy just in time for Christmas! 🙂 You can find Esther Price on Facebook here.
Now for day 12 of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Tickets to the Zinfandel Experience.
The Zinfandel Experience features four festive, celebratory events over three days and offers a diverse selection of Zinfandel wines and styles from renowned producers and emerging wineries. The events also showcase Zinfandel producers’ spirit of collaboration and community. Set at the historic Presidio overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the iconic Four Seasons Hotel, the Zinfandel Experience is the largest single varietal tasting of its kind, bringing together top producers and wine lovers to celebrate America’s grape.
Over 100 ZAP producer members will participate in the 2015 Zinfandel Experience. Thirty-four winemakers will participate in Epicuria on Thursday, January 29 at the Golden Gate Club, Presidio of San Francisco. Over 30 winemakers will host tables at the Zinfandel Experience Dinner and Live and Silent Auctions on Friday, January 30, 2015 at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. Over 100 winemakers will participate in The Tasting at the Golden Gate Club and the Film Centre, Presidio of San Francisco Saturday, January 31, 2015.
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, ZAP was founded in 1991 at a time when Zinfandel was the underdog with a cause. A small group of passionate winemaking pioneers and Zinfandel lovers joined to create a movement that would elevate the understanding and status of Zinfandel wine – rightfully establishing it among the premier varietals of the world.
Attending 2015 Zinfandel Experience is more than going to a fun and lively wine tasting event. It’s also about making deeper connections with others who love Zinfandel as much as you do. It’s about introducing your friends to a meaningful part of your life. And it’s about discovering new ways of bringing Zinfandel’s magic into the world.
12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, Revised
Day eleven of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover and it’s Christmas Eve!
I want to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. I am really enjoying this holiday season—more than I have in a long time. Back home in Ohio, my family has grown by one member, my brother’s son Casper Ryan Morris (pictured below), so I kind of wish I was home to meet him and visit with everyone in the clan, but at the same time I am loving the fair weather here and our house and our tree and spending Christmas with Andy. 🙂
If you’re still looking for gift ideas, your time is running out. However, it’s not too late to order my gift idea for today because it hasn’t been released yet! Also, it’s never to plan for next year.
Today’s gift idea comes from a book I received for review called How to Travel the World on $50 a Day (Revised Edition). You can pre-order it by going here and it will be sent out after the release date (January 6th). Actually, this gets you out of hot water if you are a procrastinator, because you can say, “Hey, I got you something, but it hasn’t been released!” 😉
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day was written by Matt Kepnes, a Boston native who was never a big traveler at all until 2006. That year, he went on a tour trip in Costa Rica, and got hooked on travel. He quit his desk job and decided to take a year off to travel. The year turned into 18 months, and Matt is still on the road.
Since then, Matt has been showing readers of his enormously popular travel blog (nomadicmatt.com) that traveling isn’t expensive and that it’s affordable to all. He proves that as long as you think out of the box and travel like locals, your trip doesn’t have to break your bank.
His book How to Travel the World on $50 a Day gets an upgrade in this new revised and expanded edition—it still has Matt’s signature tips, tricks, and secrets to comfortable budget travel based on his experience traveling the world without giving up the sushi meals and comfortable beds he enjoys, but it also has brand-new content, including new chapters on China, Japan, and India. Other tips include how to:
• Avoid paying bank fees anywhere in the world
• Earn thousands of free frequent flyer points
• Find discount travel cards that can save on hostels, tours, and transportation
• Get cheap (or free) plane tickets
Tomorrow will be day 12 of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover. Don’t miss it!! 🙂
12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon Duo
It’s day ten of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover and today’s pick comes from Josh Cellars. It’s their duo of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
These are inexpensive to mid-priced wines, and a great gift for your boss, co-worker or neighbor. They are also wise choices to bring to Christmas dinner to share with the family.
The Sauvignon Blanc is a drink now and pairs well with a starter salad, cheeses and seafood, and the Cabernet Sauvignon you can enjoy now with a main course like this Salt and Pepper Crusted Prime Rib with Sage Jus! There are also definite aging capabilities on the Cabernet if you have the patience to wait. 😉
The Sauvignon Blanc costs around $17 and the Cabernet Sauvignon around $16. Both can be found at Total Wine and More.
For every bottle you purchase until Dec 31st, they will donate $1 to Operation Homefront and their special Holiday Meals for Military program.
Operation Homefront’s Holiday Meals for Military ensures troops and their families have what they need for a healthy and plentiful holiday meal. In 2014, they will be distributing 8,000 meals in 21 locations across the country.
About Operation Homefront:
A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.
About Josh Cellars:
California vintner Joseph Carr’s line of Josh Cellars wine is named in honor of his father – a passionate stock car racer and war veteran who was as unassuming and approachable as the wines that bear his name. Josh Cellars offers bold, complex and approachable wines handcrafted for drinking with family and friends. Sourced from vineyards across the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Mendocino County, and even the Central Coast of California, Josh Cellars offers six California varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and a new red blend, “Legacy.”
Tune in tomorrow for day eleven of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers 🙂
It’s a pretty easy recipe to make, and once you’re done you can pick out a nice cookie tin and present it to your recipient (but instruct them against shaking it). Remember to tell your candy lover to store the fudge in the refrigerator (when they are not too busy eating it) 😉
For the Pistachio Layer:
2 cups roasted pistachios
1-2 Tbs coconut oil, softened
1½ Tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tsp sea salt
For the Chocolate Layers:
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate (whatever your favorite brand happens to be)
1/4 coconut oil, softened
Line a 9 x 13 in. baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Begin with roasted pistachios (either roast them in the oven or buy them pre-roasted, but try to get them unsalted, as this will add an unnecessary amount of sodium to the recipe). Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until the nuts begin to stick to the sides (you’ll end up making a pistachio butter by the time you are done blending). Add the coconut oil to help the pistachios turn into a butter. When the mixture is completely smooth, add your sweetener of choice, the vanilla and the salt. Set this mixture aside.
Melt your chocolate with the coconut oil (either in the microwave in 10-15 second bursts and stirs) or over a double boiler on the stovetop. When the chocolate is completely melted, spread half of it onto the parchment lined baking pan. You’ll want the layer to be a little less than 1/4″ thick on the bottom. Let the chocolate harden before you move onto the next step. You can speed things up by placing your pan in the freezer for 10 minutes.
When the chocolate has completely solidified, spread the pistachio mixture over it 1/4″ from the edge of the chocolate. Spread the mixture evenly. Then top the pistachio layer with the remaining melted chocolate and also spread evenly. The idea is to get all layers pretty even so that when you cut it, the pieces of fudge will look elegant and uniform. 🙂 Return the pan to the refrigerator/freezer and allow to harden completely.
The next step is to cut the pieces of fudge in little diamonds. You can do this by making diagonal slices all the way across from left top to right bottom, and then diagonal slices from the top right to the bottom left. You can place the slices directly into your parchment-lined cookie tin with a spatula.
Now you’re all set to give a delicious, addictive homemade gift. You might not want to give it away once you try it. 😉
Join me tomorrow for another 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover (DAY 10!!) Getting sooo close to Christmas now! Cheers! 🙂
It was a very hectic weekend over at cavegrrl.com headquarters, so I apologize for no gift idea yesterday. I will make up for this with two blog posts today and two gift ideas (day eight and day nine of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover).
I’ll begin with Day eight’s idea: eGiftcards from Piatti Ristorante and Bar. The best thing about this gift idea is that you don’t even have to get in your car to buy one. You can complete your transaction entirely online and the eGiftcard is delivered immediately into the recipient’s email inbox. You can personalize it and choose your own design like this:
The eGiftcard is the easiest and most convenient way to treat friends and family with the gift of dining at all Piatti locations:
Northern California: Mill Valley, Danville, Sacramento, & Santa Clara
Southern California: La Jolla
Texas: San Antonio: The Quarry
You can purchase a Piatti eGiftcard here.
Day six of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover goes to the VinniBag.
The VinniBag is a reusable travel bag with inflatable air chambers and is designed to provide superior protection against impact and leakage.
The VinniBag can be used for wine, olive oil, liquor, fragile items etc., and can hold most 750ml bottles—even larger magnum bottles (Bordeaux style only).
The Vinnibag exceeds all airline requirements and has been independently tested for alititude and temperature changes.
The VinniBag is recyclable & 100% USA Made. You can actually send used VinniBags back and the company has them turned into garden hoses to help keep our planet green and will give you a discount on your next VinniBag purchase.
The VinniBag is made by Ellessco, a women-owned company originally founded by a mother and her daughter (who still get along!). Their passion for travel, design, and technology led them to develop innovative products for life on the go.
The Vinnibag is $28 and $25 if you buy 2 at a time. You can purchase them here.
Why do I love the VinniBag? It’s pretty simple. It gets our wine from point A to point B with no bottle breakage. Andy and I have used it repeatedly over 3 years and it’s never failed. It even transported a magnum of Scribner Bend’s Black Hat Tempranillo to Mexico in perfect condition. Thank you, VinniBag! 🙂
You can find VinniBag on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. Check back tomorrow for day seven of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers!
My number five selection of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover belongs to the California Wine Club. And my recommendation applies especially to non-California residents who are not as fortunate as I am to live within an hour of hundreds of small production wineries.
The California Wine Club focuses on small family wineries handcrafting extraordinary wine in quantities too limited to be found in local stores or shops. In 1990, wine club founders Bruce and Pam Boring discovered that these wine making families were the most passionate in the wine world and that their wines were the hidden gems of wine country! Together Bruce and Pam embarked on a journey to help these artisan wineries introduce their exquisite wines to the world.
Each month they visit all areas of California’s wine country. Then they share their delicious discoveries with you and your gift recipients, along with the rich stories of each winery. Plus you can reorder your favorite wines at up to 50% off normal retail.
The reason I am recommending this wine club as a gift idea is because you can pay month to month and cancel at any time. Also, Bruce and Pam the time to personally visit each winery (can you say dream job?), meet the families, the winemakers and then select two bottles of their best to ship to their customers. There are never any private labels and no bulk wine.
You can find the California Wine Club on Facebook here on Twitter here and they have a Pinterest page here. Check back tomorrow for day six of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers!
12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Domaine Chandon’s Limited Edition Blanc de Noirs, Holiday 2014
The countdown rolls on with day four of 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! For day four, I’ve selected Domaine Chandon’s Limited Edition Blanc de Noirs, Holiday 2014.
Wrapped in chic winter-white and emblazoned with the golden phrases “The Party Starts Here,” “Pour on the Fun” and “I Am the After Party,” these Limited Edition bottles are as fun to give as they are to pour.
The wine retails for $24.00 per bottle (standard 750mL) and $19.20 per bottle for wine club members.
Head over to Domaine Chandon’s Estore to purchase. They’ve got a special offer on ground shipping with the purchase of a case and if you use ground shipping (enter code BUBBLES12), you can still get the wine in time for New Year’s Eve if you order by 12/18.
Also, check out Domaine Chandon’s entertaining and hosting tips over on their site!
Day three of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover brings us this fun (and functional) wine gift from BigMouth Inc.
The World’s Biggest Wine Glass holds THREE bottles of wine and is a fun way to impress your guests over the holiday. Retailing for $19.75, it comes in a colorful gift package and is made of hand-blown glass.
For the full selection of wine accessories and other gifts, feel free to check out their online catalog – http://www.bigmouthtoys.com/CATALOG-VIEW. BigMouth Toys are also available at nationwide retailers like Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and online at Amazon.com.
I hope you’ll check back tomorrow for day four of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers!
jcoco chocolate is a remarkable new line of American couture chocolate. Like fashion’s haute couture, jcoco draws inspiration from cultures across the globe to create a fresh, contemporary style.
Their line of flavors include: On Dasher! On Ginger!, Peanut Strawberry Baobab (like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich dipped in chocolate), Black Fig Pistachio, Vanuatu Coconut Pecan, Edamame Sea Salt, Agave Quinoa Sesame, Cayenne Veracruz Orange and Noble Dark.
jcoco sent me the three bars you see above to sample and though my favorite of the three was the Noble Dark (72% couverture chocolate with Casa Luker cocoa nibs from Colombia), the most Christmassy flavor was On Dasher! On Ginger, a bar with pieces of candied ginger and a hint of allspice (below).
What I really liked about the packaging of the bars is that each package has three individually wrapped 1 oz bars. This makes it perfect to open a package, take one bar out for yourself, and share the other two in the package with your besties. 🙂 I hope you’ll check back tomorrow for day three of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers!
With twelve days remaining until Christmas, I thought I would count down until the big day by bringing you a dozen holiday gifts for the food and wine lover.
I’ll kick off the festivities with day one’s selection: A bottle of 2011 SIMI Landslide Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
We enjoyed this wine while at our home in Incline Village a few weeks ago, and we paired it with filet mignon, Andy’s wilted chard, some sweet potato medallions and a salad. It’s always so fun to be up there relaxing in front of the fire and enjoying dinner on the giant wooden table.
The recently released SIMI Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon is a food friendly Cabernet blend: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec, & 1% Tannat. It is 100% oak-aged for 24 months in French oak barrels, 56% new. It has aging potential, but the tannins are soft enough that the wine can also be enjoyed at your holiday event in the next few weeks.
SIMI Winery was founded in 1876 by Giuseppe and Pietro Simi. They were brothers who had originally traveled from Tuscany, Italy, to California for the Gold Rush (didn’t pan out so much for them). 😉 Instead, they ended up selling fruits and vegetables in the North Beach area of San Francisco. Eventually they bought grapes from the Healdsburg area and decided to make wine in their house. The wine making went a little better than the gold finding, so they then moved to Healdsburg in 1890 to expand their growing and wine production, and bought land with a winery already on the property.
In 1904, both brothers passed away from Spanish flu, leaving the winery to Giuseppe’s 18 year old daughter Isabelle. During prohibition, SIMI Winery survived by making alter wine and wine sold for medicinal purposes. They also shelved 500,000 cases of wine during this time and in 1933 when prohibition ended, lots of thirsty customers flocked to SIMI. I can only imagine!
In 1934, Isabelle designed and opened the current tasting room (fashioned from a 25,000 gallon cask that was installed in front of the winery.
By 1970, Isabelle sold the winery to Russell and BJ Green, but kept a position in the tasting room for many years. Russell and BJ updated the wine making facility and hired MaryAnn Graf in 1973. MaryAnn was the first female enology graduate in the United States. In 1979, Zelma Long became the wine maker at SIMI. Zelma just happened to be the country’s second female enology graduate.
The Landslide Vineyard in the Alexander Valley was purchased in 1982. The Landslide name comes from a series of earthquakes and landslides which occurred in the area. The vineyard has an interesting amalgamation of soils that have shifted from the uplands, midlands and lowlands and is now home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot that make up the Landslide Cabernet.
Here’s a photo of the full dinner we paired with the wine. Highly recommended! I hope you’ll check back tomorrow for day two of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers!
You can find SIMI on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.